Of all the management advice we’ve seen in the past three decades, none is more important than the simple lesson we were taught as children:  Follow the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When assessing a company or management team for the kind of business they run, you can sum up their integrity and character by the way they treat their employees, contractors and customers.  A manager who puts fairness and respect above all else is more than half way there. All the performance metrics are smoke and mirrors if people are not treated with decency.

That life lesson was brought home once again recently after we read a stunning USA Today investigative report about the worst of some port trucking companies in Southern California.  These companies reportedly profit by squeezing  their drivers for every hour and penny they can get from them — forcing them to finance their own trucks, take on debt they can’t afford, and then using the debt as leverage, trapping them in jobs that ultimately leave them broke and destitute.

No matter how many hours they work, and how hard they try, they are destined to lose everything when their employers unfairly charge them exorbitantly for leases, fuel, insurance, parking fees and even office supplies.

Our thanks to USA Today for exposing this blight on our business and to the courts that are currently sorting out scores of individual lawsuits, but not before many lives were ruined and at least 20 people were lost in truck accidents attributed to driver exhaustion.

These conditions give further support to the importance of thoroughly vetting every new supplier and staying “personal” with the ones your company already has.  Talk to them, visit them, chat with employees about their work.

Reputations can be quickly eroded because of the bad business practices of the companies who represent you on the road and in the field.

Recently, in an article published in Supply and Demand Chain Executive, ICAT Logistics Detroit owner Dan Cser outlined a clear approach to vetting suppliers. In the article (CLICK HERE to read the entire article) Cser explained that: “When vetting a potential supplier partner, adding attributes such as shared standards for quality, safety records, integrity, employee satisfaction and customer care to the selection criteria will help ensure a reliable, long-lasting supplier relationship.

“Remember,” he said, “when a new supplier joins your team, they represent you when you cannot conveniently represent yourself.  You want strong supplier partners you trust and whose business practices are transparent.”

In other words:  You want them to follow the ancient lesson we call “The Golden Rule.”

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